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Chris Watts has only ever told police one story — which was a lie — about the morning that he murdered his pregnant wife, Shan'ann, and their daughters

By Adam Carlson and KC Baker
November 20, 2018 03:54 PM
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In the multiple stories he has told police about the morning that he murdered his wife and kids, Chris Watts has never told them the truth.

Even after his about-face earlier this month, in which he revealed himself as the killer, he did not describe what really happened. All he told the court was that he was guilty.

Prosecutors wouldn’t trust what he had to say, anyway.

Weld County, Colorado, District Attorney Michael Rourke laid out this candid assessment of Watts’ deceptions on Monday, as Watts was sentenced to spend the rest of his life in prison for murdering wife Shan’ann Watts, who was then 15 weeks pregnant with their son, and their daughters, Bella and Celeste.

Speaking with reporters after Chris, 33, was sentenced, Rourke did not dispute that the possibility remains for Chris to make a statement in the future about his crimes.

He tells PEOPLE, “[Explaining] what happened, why it happened was not a condition of the plea.”

“If he wants to talk now, it’s on his own,” Rourke says, “but it’s not a condition of the plea nor is it a part of our agreement.”

He explains that both he and Shan’ann’s family agreed that forcing Chris to make a public confession could put them “in a position where we were listening to some concocted BS story, just to try to satisfy the plea agreement.”

“The Rzuceks [Shan’ann’s family] were of the opinion that he would never be able to give us a full version — just because of who he is — he would never tell us the truth,” Rourke says.

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Shan’ann Watts (center) and her daughters
| Credit: Shanann Watts /Facebook

At a news conference Monday, Rourke said two very big and basic questions remain even as the investigation has led authorities toward a partial understanding of both mysteries.

“How? And why?” he said, adding, “Those are the questions that will always haunt anyone who was involved in the investigation.”

But, Rourke said, “I don’t think he’ll ever answer those questions. Like I said in the courtroom this morning, and I think [Shan’ann’s] family said it very, very well as well: I don’t think think he will ever tell us. I don’t think he will give an honest assessment of why he did what he did, how he did what he did.”

“I intentionally called upon [Chris] to see if he would answer those questions in the courtroom this morning,” Rourke continued. “Both his mother and, through their attorney, his father said that they hope he will be honest and come clean some day and give us an account of what happened.”

Rourke cautioned though that when it came to such a vicious triple murder, there would be no easy explanation.

“I don’t think that there is ever going to be a satisfactory answer for anyone,” he said.

Rourke told the judge at Chris’ sentencing that he strangled Shan’ann, 34, and smothered Bella, 4, and 3-year-old Celeste, motivated by the selfish desire for a “fresh start” with his unwitting mistress.

A timeline of the murders remains unknown, however, as do some details about how Chris carried out each slaying such as what he may have used to kill his girls.

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Shan’ann’s father (left) and brother in court in August
| Credit: RJ Sangosti/The Denver Post/Getty Images

After the sentencing, Rourke confirmed that “the only statement that [Chris] gave until his pleas of guilty” was what he told police under questioning not long after his wife and kids disappeared. That’s when, after being confronted about the affair he was having with a co-worker, Chris told investigators he would give them “the truth.”

According to his arrest affidavit, Chris claimed that Shan’ann was responsible for their daughters’ deaths and that he’d strangled her in a “rage” after witnessing her strangling 3-year-old Celeste. Before admitting killing his wife, Chris had told police she went to see a friend and, in giving his various accounts, he kept changing small details such when conversations took place.

For months Chris’ lie about the murders stood — contested but not discredited — until he pleaded guilty on Nov. 6.

Rourke told reporters afterwards, “The spotlight that he tried to shine on Shanann falsely, incorrectly and, frankly, a flat-out lie has been corrected. The spotlight shines directly where it belongs: on him.”

Through a public defender on Monday, Chris said he was “devastated” and “sincerely sorry.”

Asked if he wanted to speak for himself, he stayed silent.